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Thursday, 4 May 1989
Page: 1875

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)(11.52) —In winding up this long adjournment debate at this very late hour tonight the only matter I want to refer to is the tragic assassination earlier this evening of Jean-Marie Tjibaou and his colleague Mr Yeweine Yeweine, the second most senior member of the Kanak independence movement in New Caledonia. The news is tragic indeed. I am distressed about it. I know that that distress is shared not only by my colleagues in the Government but also by a great many members of parliament on both sides of both chambers, two of whom have spoken eloquently tonight-Senator Schacht from my Party and Senator Hill of the Liberal Party of Australia. I believe that all Australians will join right-minded New Caledonians in deploring this shocking act of violence and in paying tribute to two of the architects of the peaceful processes currently in place in New Caledonia.

Jean-Marie Tjibaou, in particular, was an inspiration to his people. He was one of the great apostles of moderation in New Caledonia's recent troubled history. I had the pleasure of meeting him personally on several occasions, most recently during my ministerial visit to New Caledonia last September when I, too, was heartened-as were other honourable senators who have spoken tonight-at the extraordinary progress that had been achieved in the territory and the extraordinary spirit of optimism and hope which was then abroad. Jean-Marie Tjibaou was a man of great capacity, great vision and great personal dignity. His leadership of the Kanak people, through the processes of the Matignon and Oudino accords gave hope for the first time that a way through the traumas of the territory could be found that would satisfy the aspirations of both black and white New Caledonians.

It is a very sad irony that, at a time when the future holds hope for a lasting, peaceful, multi-racial solution to the troubles of New Caledonia, one of the Pacific's really outstanding leaders should be cut down in this way. Mr President, you too have spoken movingly of this unhappy event tonight. We all simply hope that these tragic events will do nothing to interrupt the processes in place in New Caledonia, which processes will result in a democracy, in a form of government that is acceptable and satisfactory to all New Caledonians-a result which, hopefully, will be Jean-Marie Tjibaou's lasting monument.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.55 p.m.